July 15th, 2020

Times 27717 - bird watching.

A mostly straightforward puzzle, this, but with a few odd bits that caused me to slow down at the end. A bird I didn't know but was clear from the wordplay, and another three letter bird I'd seen before in crosswordland but not in real life; an eighteenth century naughty painting which caused controversy in its day and looks anatomically strange to me. A definition at 12a I thought was just incorrect, but apparently in America it isn't. What does it mean in Quebec, I wonder?

1 Judge excessive, editor noted (6)
JOTTED - J (judge) OTT (over the top, excessive), ED(itor).
4 Celebrity outdoes returning long-distance traveller (8)
SPACEMAN - All reversed: NAME (celeb) CAPS (outdoes).
9 Altered damaged mechanism (7)
11 Stomach remedy that could be formic? (7)
ANTACID - ANT ACID could come from ants, as formic acid does.
12 Register point over US earthquake, not very impressive (5)
ENTER - Well the explanation of this is probably quite simple, but I can't fathom it yet. 'point over' perhaps = NE reversed = EN, if you will. TER... ? Is earthquake an anagram indicator? When someone explains it, I'll amend the blog and give credit to the commenter. EDIT:kudos to jackkt for explaining        this below, it's EPIC dropped off EPICENTER with the American spelling. Not very impressive indeed.
13 Steak main course absorbing company time (9)
ENTRECOTE - ENTREE (main course?) absorbs CO and T. I didn't quite get this, as in my life the main course is always the plat and the entrée is the starter. Sans doute, mon ami. But apparently it can be different in America. Zut alors, as I've never yet heard a Frenchman say.
14 Gory evidence no tabloids must get wrong (10)
16 Who might stock lazy Susan (a revolutionary female?) (4)
CHEF - CHE (Guevara), F(emale). A lazy Susan is one of those round things on a freely revolving base, with shaped dishes full of tasty bits; we've got two of them for some reason.
19 Petrol with lead in pump’s rapid air intake? (4)
GASP - GAS (petrol) P (lead in pump).
20 Cleaner trapping father over eavesdropper (10)
WIRETAPPER - WIPER (cleaner) has PATER reversed inserted.
22 Change of policy: you are to arrest visiting solicitor (9)
TURNABOUT - TOUT (solicitor) is visited by U, R and NAB = you, are, arrest.
23 Doctor with unit is a lazy person (5)
DRONE - DR (doctor) ONE (unit). Collins has this meaning, a parasite or loafer.
25 Scraping good assessment (7)
26 Search odd-looking magician (7)
RUMMAGE - RUM (odd looking) MAGE (magician).
27 Late, perhaps holding it back? (8)
RETICENT - RECENT (late) insert IT.
28 Like volunteers, give assistance after UN pressure (6)
UNPAID - UN, P for pressure, AID for assistance.
1 Nervous person lowering head of beer in beer mug (9)
JITTERBUG - JUG = mug, BITTER = beer, lower the head > ITTERB, insert into JUG.
2 Something special English found in Italian restaurant (5)
TREAT - TRAT(toria) has E inserted.
3 Fuss after the Spanish note gold here? (8)
ELDORADO - EL (the Spanish) D (note) OR (gold) ADO (fuss).
5 Sole island with more spruce for a variety of bird (8-5)
PLANTAIN-EATER - PLANTA (sole of foot) I (island) NEATER (more spruce). Apparently the plantain-eater is an African bird of the turaco family, which sometimes eats plantains. See pic above. I'd never heard of it, nor seen it in a crossword before, but the word play left me in no doubt. And as a frequent sufferer from plantar fasciitis, until I discovered Fit-flop shoes, I know where my planta is.
6 Caught servant hiding key — one who sold the family silver? (6)
CUTLER - C (caught) BUTLER loses his "key" B.
7 Animal implant — note reptile with it (9)
MICROCHIP - MI (note) CROC (reptile) HIP (with it).
8 Elbow’s good in, eg, Goya’s Naked Maja (5)
NUDGE - Insert G into a NUDE painting such as the MAJA DESNUDA by Goya. I went for a sneaky look; her chesty parts don't look quite right to me.
10 Sort of concert regal involving current? (8,5)
ELECTRIC ORGAN - (CONCERT REGAL I)*. I for current here.
15 With eyes open, he died needing help at home (9)
OBSERVANT - OB(it) = he died, SERVANT = help at home.
17 Make stuff for church, getting paid (5-4)
FORCE-FEED - FOR, CE (church) FEED = paid. Neat definition.
18 Days in bars with chap, brass player perhaps (8)
BANDSMAN - BANS (bars), insert D, add MAN a chap.
21 Madman trapping bird in raincoat (6)
MANIAC - MAC (raincoat) has ANI (a cuckoo-like bird I did know) inserted.
22 Row involving head of giant cat (5)
TIGER - insert G(iant) into TIER = row.
24 US city in Oklahoma? Hardly (5)
OMAHA - hidden city in OKLAH(OMA HA)RDLY. It's in Nebraska, on the Missouri. Never been, and probably never will, now, unless Warren Buffet invites me.

Times Quick Cryptic 1657 by Teazel

Posting a bit later than usual - apologies to our esteemed friends across the pond. This one held me up a little, taking me average time and a half,  but I can't see why now. I'm curious to find out how you all got on.

Definitions underlined.

1 Just light entertainment (4)
FAIR - and we kick things off with a triple definition.
4 No confidence water vapour leads to corrosion (8)
MISTRUST - MIST (water vapour) and RUST (corrosion).
8 To be inferred, simplicity has no limits (8)
IMPLICIT - remove the first and last letters from (...has no limits) sIMPLICITy.
9 Cattle without water (4)
NEAT - double definition. The first continues to catch me out, despite repeated attempts to remember it for next time.
10 Cautious course across river (4)
WARY - WAY (course) containing (across) R (river).
11 Liable to error, bail fell out! (8)
FALLIBLE - anagram of (out) BAIL FELL.
12 Film villain is curious Old Testament character (6)
ODDJOB - ODD (curious) and JOB (Old Testament character).
14 Perfect in diplomacy (6)
INTACT - IN and TACT (diplomacy).
16 Irritable person, sensible, not coming forward (8)
CRABWISE - CRAB (irritable person) and WISE (sensible). Not a meaning I knew, but it does make sense once you've worked it out: going sideways, like a crab.
18 Naughty girl in furs, we hear (4)
MINX - sounds like (we hear) "minks" (furs)
19 Insipidly sweet short message broken off (4)
TWEE - TWEEt (short message) without its last letter (broken off).
20 One’s missing, having been east on tour (8)
ABSENTEE - anagram of (on tour) BEEN EAST.
22 New Moon Street (8)
CRESCENT - double definition.
23 Young player left in bed (4)
COLT - L (left) inside (in) COT (bed).

2 Evidence of authority to issue weapons to troop (7)
ARMBAND - ARM (issue weapons to) and BAND (troop).
3 Start to recover from exchange of shots (5)
RALLY - double definition.
4 Host accepts a coat (3)
MAC - MC (Master of Ceremonies, host) contains (accepts) A.
5 Latest lie concocted that goes all round the world (9)
SATELLITE - anagram of (concocted) LATEST LIE.
6 Go berserk, having to manage tumultuous crowd (3,4)
RUN RIOT - RUN (manage) and RIOT (tumultuous crowd).
7 Take boat round north, a slow mover (5)
SNAIL - SAIL (boat) containing (round) N (North).
11 Produce cabaret, if in resort (9)
FABRICATE - anagram of (in resort) CABARET IF.
13 Out of work, Jack has nothing to be thankful for (7)
JOBLESS - J (jack), O (nothing), and BLESS (be thankful for).
15 Hide in attic, once alone (7)
CONCEAL - hidden in (in) attiC ONCE ALone.
17 Argumentative sportsman? (5)
ROWER - cryptic definition, with the first syllable pronounced to rhyme with 'how' or 'toe'.
18 Hyperactive person in charge (5)
MANIC - MAN (person) and I.C. (in charge).
21 Fixed a number of games (3)
SET - double definition.